Thursday, December 14, 2006

Trees, fruitcake and logs

Well, inspired by a post from Beth over at BooksEtc. I've been thinking about christmas trees. Once upon a time in a place far far away, before we started travelling, we would go out every year and hunt the wild christmas tree. On a farm, preferably with wagon rides and warm apple cider, and a binder to tie the tree up tight so it didn't lift off on the highway, or alternately fill with slush while you are behind some giant semi. It was good fun. We'd debate endlessly as we wandered aimlessly through the fields and inevitably get the first tree we had seen. Bring it home, put it in the stand, that always tipped over at least once a year, etc etc etc. We made our own decorations and added to them every year. We had the ultimate Christmas before we left. Perfect snow, lots of family, and no one got samonella from the undercooked turkey!

Then we got on the boat and went travelling. The first christmas, we were waiting in a remote creek in south Florida to cross the gulf stream. This crossing can be dangerous and requires some care, especially in a boat as small as ours.
So no tree hunting that year. We did go out in the dingy and cut some mangrove branches though and put them in a naglene to keep green, and started making decorations. We had brought some stuff along too. Then we got our weather window to hopefully safely cross, Christmas eve day. We went. We had sat in this beautiful creek for THREE WEEKS waiting to go. We went. We left at 2 am christmas eve day..that was an adventure in itself for another post, and arrived around 3pm on Christmas eve day. VERY tired. Details of this are also for another post if we are to keep the christmas theme here, and not write a tome. Santa found us despite our radical last minute shift of nations, and on Christmas itself we went to the beach, better still we ran into friends. Unless you have cruised, it is hard to imagine how great this is, but it was the ultimate Christmas present for both of us, and they are still dear friends now. There was even a pot-luck party with other boaters. We had our christmas that morning and then the big dinner on our boat that night, having made sandcastles and gone shelling and swimming that day, on what remains one of our favorite beaches in the world. Kids had a good time, but later admitted the tree was pathetic. Completely inadequate.

Next year, had to do better. Got gingerbread house kits. No oven. Then further down we met up with friends who had access to a car and were going shopping. Asked them to pick us up a tree. Well, bless them, they came back with a live tree. All 8 inches of it. Not what we had in mind. Aside from the size, we were now going to shift countries with the thing, and had to water it. May seem like a small thing, but when you have 30 gallons to last 4 people a month, this starts to matter. That is 6 flushes folks. One month. To boot, we hump all that water to the boat ourselves. Carry it and row it out. Well the tree lasted for months, and then DIED. To the great distress of the kids. To top it all, the husband didn't want to bury the thing at sea. It was an illegal import of potentially live material into a foreign country. So the corpse of the Christmas tree travelled with us for a month or two till we returned to the US, and had an extremely emotional burial at sea for it, in the same bay we got it.

Third year, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Went shopping for a tree with a friend from Alaska in rural inland Florida. If you haven't been there, think heat, Mexican cowboys and big guns. We looked through many fiber optic trees, I kid you not, plug them in and go. Finally we found one for us. Two feet tall, should fit well, etc etc etc. Then I saw the four footer. Gotta get it. Now, you need to know how small the boat is. I cannot stand up straight down below. There are two bunks running fore and aft, and there is about a foot and a half between. The kids sleep together up forward. The four foot tree is set up on the table top, laid across the two bunks, spanning the boat and preventing all forward motion. We make lots of new decorations, hang them up everywhere etc etc etc. Then take the tree down till Christmas eve. The husband makes the great Christmas march in search of cow for dinner (another post..) and then on Christmas eve day, we finally set up the tree. Everyone has to go to the toilet before bed, because once we move it so the husband and I can sleep on the bunks, no one is getting to the toilet again, and the kids have to do amazing acrobatics to get past the prickly monster and into bed. BUT THEY ARE SOOOOOO HAPPY!!!!

Santa does his thing again, and in the morning the tree is set up again in the main cabin, presents laid out and the whole deal. Great. Look out, and low and behold, different friends have arrived, and they have KIDS!!!! The same gender and age as ours! How good does it get! Christmas dinner is huge and it was fantastic.

This year, well the tree from last year and all the decorations are in Florida on the boat. The girls and I are going to Warsaw for Christmas with my sister and her family. She lives there, and my parents are coming. They usually get a large live tree. We'll see what happens. The husband is going to his cousins for Christmas. We misjudged his vacations and assumed they would be at Christmas, instead they are the first week in Jan, so he won't even be with us for Christmas. A big disappointment frankly.

Question is, do we do the three kings thing that they do here, I don't know what is involved exactly, I think the kids come in and whale away on a big log with a stick, then go out and when they come back the kings have left presents. I am sure there is more to it, we'll have to look into it. Do we get a tree here? Another artificial? Make decorations and all for a second Christmas as a family? I suppose it's up to the kids. For me, that's what it's all about. The kids being delighted. When I find out more about the three kings, I'll post.

By the way, I LOVE FRUITCAKE It is the best. But only good fruitcake. Not that dry stuff with the mystery white topping. Frankly, although the British aren't noted for their cuisine, they do it best. And no booze. Has to be big, weigh at least three pounds, and be squidgy....MMMMMMMMMMM I will confess to eating an entire three to four pounder in ONE DAY when I was pregnant with my first....

So good.


Beth said...

I am so impressed with you. To be on such an adventure and to be so adaptable. Love the picture of the Xmas tree - a little crowded but who cares, right?
As for this year, go with the Three Kings thing - great exposure to another tradition for the kids. But if the kids want a tree and a second family Christmas, do that too because it IS all about them at Christmas.

(And thanks for the link.)

Dorky Dad said...

Can't agree with you on the fruitcake, but I am envious of the holiday you will be spending. I'll spend mine in rural Canada.


oreneta said...

Beth: thank you, and I agree about the tree, they will probably want to do it all

DD: My kids would give a LOT to be in rural canada for can be good. Lots of toboganning, eh?

Beth said...

wow. What an exciting life you live. I always say that I would love to just "get away" from everything, live on an island somewhere with just my family and my dogs.....but you are actually doing it in a boat! Your kids could never get that experience living "normal", like the rest of us.

You're my hero!

Nomad said...

Hiya Oreneta,

Great story, Thanks for the photo, so good to see everyone...!!
(Ok so who's the dark luscious looking Cabana Boy?)

I KNOW whatever you do it will be fabulous.

At the end of the day a calender is so meaningless to children, we could swap up all the holidays and for the possible exception of the ambient temperature they could care less...

No?? Go for it.

Ditto to about four people over here would pretty much give their eye teeth to be having Christams in Rural Canada right about now...
GREAT place to be...

Hope your week is going ya doing on the checklist??

oreneta said...

Beth, we aren't on the boat anymore, and thank you very much....

Nomad, He is a pretty great cabana boy I must say. To bad the husband wasn't there that day...**SNORT** Life is good.